Negotiation: It’s not just used in a hostage situation

Negotiation happens all the time within our lives; most commonly in the work place when bargaining for a job or even in a time of crisis.  Anyone can be a negotiator, and it doesn’t have to just resemble a hostage situation starring Bruce Willis.

Hostage (Google Image)

Hostage (Google Image)

Active Listening

You may think you are a good listener, but are you an emphatic listener?  Of course everyone thinks they are a good listener and this may seem like I am stating the obvious but active listening is a skill in itself.  Listening requires a lot of concentration in order to really understand how the person is feeling. Negotiations happen all the time at work. If a manager can actively listen, it is likely that a compromise can be arranged with minimal conflict. The outcome of this is much better for both parties involved.

Negotiation (Google Image)

Negotiation (Google Image)

 “As parties bargain over the terms of an agreement, they are concurrently negotiating their relationship. In this parallel negotiation, parties seek to position themselves to advantage by using a variety of strategic moves”.

(Kolb, 2004)

Negotiation Staircase

Recently at university, we had a guest lecture from two real-life police negotiators about ‘Negotiation and Influence’. The skills used within a hostage situation can be applied to many other circumstances. This process is called the negotiation staircase.

The first step is emotional intelligence, achieved through active listening; you can determine how an individual is feeling. If this stage is approached inappropriately, the negotiation and bargaining process has already failed and you’re back to square one. Next is the initial contact; the cliché is true, first impressions really do count! Then empathy and rapport emerges which can then build trust. Once these steps are successfully completed, then there is your influence and persuasion.

This video by Human Resources Mag backs up the idea that negotiation within the workplace is similar to that of a hostage negotiation. Hostage negotiation skills can be applied to any situation. It’s all about common goals and maintaining relationships, and that Bruce Willis moment.

I would love to know your thoughts. Do you agree that negotiation is all about active listening and can it ever be compared to a hostage situation?